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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 34 reviews
on November 16, 2011
Overall: yes its awesome, though not at first... But it's near grain-free, high ISO shooting at night is incredible, its compact size will make you happy you aren't lugging a backpack of dslr gear, its sleek design is sexy, and I'm sure it will impress people with its picture quality and when they hear how much it costs they will be impressed with you for affording it (if that's how you get your rocks off).

The long version: I am a professional cinematographer and use canon 5d mk2s and 7ds for still and video work often. I've used Arri Alexa cameras, Red cameras and and all sorts of 35mm motion picture cameras. Needless to say I feel I have a good eye for good glass and good photos.

I ordered the Leica X1, currently owning a t2i with L-series 24-70, 80-200 IS, the popular tokina wide angle, and a 30mm 1.4 sigma for really dark shooting. Upon arrival of the X1 i snapped some pics on the internal memory (which will give you 10 pics worth in an emergency) indoors at night, out in the street at night, etc.

I downloaded the pics to my macbook pro-pretty glossy but nothing magical. Snapped some more, cranked up the ASA to 3200, played with the manual focus-pretty fun, played with the saturation and contrast settings, and I did side by side looks in iphoto at the jpeg vs dng files. manual adjustment wheels of f stop and shutter were nice to see on a digital...All good stuff, but not 2k worth. (keep reading however...)

"Why not buy a 5d if i really care about a photo or just use my iphone with hipstamatic otherwise" I said "This is an overpriced status symbol (lacking the optical viewfinder I love in 35mm Leicas) I'll stick with my t2i.."

Sent the X1 back next day without blinking-if money was no object I would have kept it but I can't see buying pricey things that don't wow me- i can use Canon t2i's as disposable cameras and not have equaled the price of an X1.

But going on a trip the next day and I was already missing it, here's why:
1) I compared the night shots to canon t2i photos and a friend's 5d mk 1 pics hanging around. The X1 at ISO 3200 had less grain than my T2i at 800. The way the X1 processes info is in fact magical. I was shooting the T2i through a $1400 l series lens and the grain was electrified at 800, the X1, flawless.

2)The compact size is easy to bring along, and unobtrusive. No one is bothered by the little thing, the t2i 7d, 5d etc becomes a project. And at something like a wedding you get the odd label of being a techy camera guy if you sling a big camera, and have to carry it around all night. Traveling with the X1 is great.

Before the X1, when a photo op out a car window came up or something i wanted a good shot of I found myself saying well the t2i is too big of a project to break out of the bag, this moment isn't THAT important, so an iPhone pic would suffice. The Leica fills that void perfectly
3)Addressing the amazon review cons lastly: FOCUS:the focusing isn't slow, it's accurate. Im used to always living on manual focus on DSLRs, I shoot video alot so I never have my lenses on AUTO, The Leica X1 is the first camera I trust to do that on.
FIXED LENS: yes a fixed lens, yes a bit of a head scratch, brow raise... but think of the Leica X1 camera as a 7d or 5d with a canon fixed prime 35mm lens that takes awesome dark photos with natural looking highlights that fits in the palm of your hand.

Summary:I'd rather have some stunning photos to document my life in a take anywhere camera than lug along a DSLR and tons of lenses forever. The opposite extreme is true too, instagram and hipstamatic is cool but the X1 will put the photos of your own history in the making, in a class above. This is an interesting camera for the picky professional unsatisfied carrying junk snapshot cameras without having to bring out the whole rig.
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on October 17, 2010
I have been looking at purchasing some form of Leica camera for the last year or so. Originally I was going to get a D-Lux4, but wasn't sold on the idea. The X1 was pushing my pricepoint but something about it intrigued me. I didn't know what to make of the fixed lens, the slow speed, the high price or the varying reviews. I read everything I could, watched everything on Youtube and finally decided on Friday I had to have one. I ordering with one day shipping and paced all morning long on Saturday until the doorbell rang at 11:30.

I should preface this review by saying I am a professional architectural photographer and use a Canon 5DMarkII with a variety of L glass for my day job and have been a very satisfied Canon customer for many years and will continue to be. I was looking for a walk about camera for being creative and restoring my love of photography for the sake of loving photography. I bought a Canon G11 recently and like it a lot as a tool for holidays, snaps of family etc but didn't love it or want to use it for the sake of using it.

The minute I opened the box and held the X1 in my hand I felt an urge to go out and shoot for no other reason than pure enjoyment. I charged the battery, impatiently pacing as it charged, read the instructions and then set out with a friend to Abbott Kinney in Venice for some street test shots. It has been a terrible grey weekend in LA so I thought this would really test the Leica.

It took a little while to get used to the camera just because it was different to what I was used to but once I got used to it, I realized it made perfect sense. The dials are exactly what you need, the buttons are minimal but do the right things. The myriad of buttons you get on the G11 faded away to the all important shutter speed and aperture setting on top. From the first images displayed on the screen I had a feeling I was going to like the results although you can never tell until you download the images. I shot indoors, outdoors, people, buildings, flowers, textures you name it. The results were way beyond what I had hoped for. It is very hard to explain it. The color was so real it triggered my mind back to when I had seen it that day. The images were sharp and crisp and the depth made them look 3D. The images seemed alive to me, I wanted to look at them and keep looking at them. If I had taken my 5D out, images would have looked flat and lifeless, I could have made them look good in Photoshop but that's not the point.

The various modes control the look of the jpegs and work very well. I especially like the vivid for color on a dull day and the black and white high contrast for everything. This camera when shooting RAW also take a jpeg image. I always use RAW for work and expected to do so here. The RAW images are spectacular and easy to work with in photoshop. The jpegs had mixed results. The first day of shooting I didn't like the results but after tweaking the settings today I found setting I liked and for the first time in as long as I can remember was producing B&W jpegs straight from the camera that I loved. Of course I like to tweak them but straight from the camera, amazing results.

The reason for this long winded review is to illustrate why I bought this camera and what I wanted it for. This camera is not the best solution for someone who wants a fully auto point and shoot for family shots or kid action shot or a fully auto at all. Yes it does fully auto but that is not the point. This camera is for "street" shooting, for shooting for the sake of shooting, for being creative, for pros to remind themselves why they love photography. It is subtle, it doesn't disturb people when you pull it out like an SLR can do. The fixed lens is fantastic, it provides such sharp images I am willing to trade not have a zoom any day. It makes me work to get the shot, it is so easy to be lazy with zoom. You get out of this camera what you put in, plain and simple. This camera is not for most people, it is for the few that want to work for the image and enjoy the process. The shortfalls you read about elsewhere have not concerned me while I have used it. It is not the fastest camera, autofocus is a little slow but for me it takes longer to frame the image I want, so a second to focus is of no concern. The manual focus is great with the 'loupe' on-screen to help you. As a photographers tool it is beautifully designed and a breeze to use. I will take it everywhere with me and it will become my go to camera for any creative shot I want to capture. The price makes it seem expensive but after using it I am happy to have paid the price and think it is well worth it. This is my first Leica but it will certainly not be the last!! Time to start saving for the M9.
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on December 7, 2011
I am a keen photographer, shooting semi-professionally, with a Lightroom catalog of almost 40,000 images. My primary camera is a Nikon D300 with a slew of lenses -- 18-200 zoom; 12-24 zoom; 60mm macro and 10.5mm fisheye. I really love my D300 and consider it my primary camera when quality counts. However, it is fairly heavy and cumbersome to lug around, especially when using an Expodisk and polarizing filter for best quality outdoor scenic shots. I also shoot quite a few HDR images, so frequently use a tripod. I've tried for some time now to complement the Nikon with a pocket-size camera capable of producing high-quality digital images.

I've owned at least a dozen of them, including cameras from Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Casio. I also have a Panasonic GF-1 with the 20mm pancake lens and two Lumix zoom lenses - 7 to 14 and 14 to 140. Most of these cameras produced reasonable quality images, especially those which offered a RAW image processing option, but nothing to compare with my Nikon D300. The GF-1 is a gem but a bit "in betwixt and in between," as it not pocket size (even with the 20mm pancake lens) and not IMO the equal of the D300 in terms of image quality.

This fall, before a trip overseas, I began considering the purchase of a new pocket-sized camera to replace my Olympus XZ-1. I stumbled onto the Leica X1, read a few reviews and was intrigued, but was put off by the high price and did not purchase the camera. Shortly before I left I began dreading the thought of lugging my entire Nikon kit around, so broke down and purchased the X1, vowing to return it if it did not meet my high [price-based] expectations.

My initial observation was that the packaging for the camera was quite over-the-top, rather like the box in which a fancy watch would come, and a real waste of money. The camera itself was small enough to fit into the pocket of my jacket and lightweight, perhaps a bit too lightweight. I was intrigued but not impressed.

All of this changed when I went to actually take pictures with the camera. The controls are incredibly intuitive and the easiest to use of any digital camera I have ever owned. One need not read the instruction manual to determine how to shoot in program mode, aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode, it is that intuitive. As others have noted, the LCD screen is not as bright or large as one might hope, the controls have an unfortunate habit of moving inadvertently, and there is no zoom lens. The images, however, are remarkable. Coloration is subtle and extremely accurate, resolution and acuity are exceptional, the autofocus is unbelievably true and images taken in low light are exceptional.

While on my trip I shot some identical test images with both my D300 (with the 18 to 200 zomm set at 24mm) and the X1. I also shot some additional test images on my return, using a tripod and self-timer to ensure that I had a set of images, taken under various conditions, that would provide an accurate basis for comparison. I imported the RAW images into Lightroom without any processing and compared them side by side using Lightroom's "compare" function. In every single case the Leica images were chosen in blind tests (I removed all of the identification data from the screen images and then asked colleagues to tell me which of the two they preferred). At higher magnification the Leica X1 images were, unbelievably, sharper than those captured by the D300. Frankly, I still cannot believe the quality of these images and am stunned that they are at least as good, if not better, than those produced by the D300.

One other point that may be arcane but is important to me - I take a fair number of images for HDR processing using the Photomatix program exported through Lightroom. I have obtained some really excellent images using the HDR approach. With the D300, I always use a tripod because it simply is not feasible to hand-hold the camera for three successive exposures. While playing around with the X1, I noticed it has an auto bracketing option, so I tried that while hand-holding the camera and then exported them through Lightroom into the Photomatix HDR program. I created several really stunning HDR images just by pressing the shutter button while hand-holding the camera. Unbelievable.

So while it is true that this camera has some fairly significant constraints, if high-quality images are your goal, then I would say it literally has no peer. I am blown away by this little gem.

One last comment - I purchased through Amazon the Rainbowimaging Auto Lens Cap, which installed easily and works well. I recommend that accessory for this camera.

Lastly, these are my subjective personal opinions, not based on any scientific study. I am simply an avid long-time photographer in love with this camera!


After two months of intensive use of this camera, I like it more than ever. Its compact size is convenient and the controls remain intuitive and easy-to-use. Best of all, the images are fantastic, significantly better than I ever expected for a camera of this size and ease of use. I just took some pictures of the white ice crystal frost that developed last night where I live, and the detail is amazing. I then took three differently exposed pictures for an HDR output (simple to accomplish in the X1), and with a minimum of processing in Lightroom 3 and Photomatix Pro 4, obtained a stunning result worthy of framing. Quite simply, this is the greatest camera, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, I've ever owned.


For my next book shoot, I just acquired a Nikon D700 (full frame 24 x 36 sensor) with 16-35 and 24-120 FX lenses. I wanted the new D800 but didn't think I would be able to obtain one before I leave. The D700 is a superb camera; however, based on my standard [non-scientific] test of shooting a set of HDR images off my back deck, it is no sharper than the X1 -- and the D700 shots were taken on a tripod while the only stabilization I used for the Leica was a SteadePod. Maybe I just got a "production perfect" sample with X1, but it is extraordinary.

As another reviewer noted, apparently the black covering on these cameras is prone to lifting; the black cover on mine is beginning to lift near the LCD screen. So it's not entirely perfect!
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on February 3, 2011
Suddenly I had an urge to share my experience with the Leica X1 camera which has been with me since the end of October 2010. I had been literally in (photography) exile over the past ten years since I stopped shooting with film cameras back in the late 1990s. I had put my longest-serving film camera, a Pentax Spotmatic and a prime lens, on the shelf when I was becoming too busy at work. Since then I had some experience shooting with a few digital cameras but I had never owned one. I didn't really like what I saw in digital cameras when it became more popular in the early 2000s. Image quality was basically poor. But again, I compared them to the image quality of a decent 35mm film camera (such as a Nikon FM2). It was perhaps an unfair comparison but it showed that I'd better retrieve my film camera off the shelf and start shooting again, rather than getting myself an expensive-but-low-quality camera.

Time did really fly. Fast forwarding to July 2010. I unexpectedly bought my first digital camera when I came across a Panasonic Lumix GF1 while I was browsing shops at the airport during my trip to London. The GF1 with a 20mm prime lens looks like a range finder (RF) camera (of course, the GF1 isn't), which will suite my type of photography. I know a SLR camera (and now a DSLR camera) is much more flexible than a RF camera and can outperform a good RF camera in many areas. But again, I like a RF for what it is and how I use my camera. So I bought the GF1 with a 20mm prime lens and took it with me to London. I felt good about shooting photos again as a way to liberate myself from pressure at work. Shooting with the GF1 was great but its image quality, though very good, cannot compete against any decent film camera. Then, a search for a better tool kicked off and I started looking for something better.

Having come across the Leica X1 on the internet, I read a couple of reviews and finally got myself the camera, knowing all its limitations. My relative had shot with both medium format cameras (a Mamiya and a Hasselblad) and some Leica cameras so I learned a lot about film photography back in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. I thought about the X1 and Steve Huff's review has been very useful [...]. I would encourage those who like to know more about the Leica to read his review. I am not a professional photographer, so what I try to share with you is my experience with the camera in action as an amateur photographer who returns to the photography world after a long-term exile.

I have heard many people saying that the autofocus of the Leica X1 is so slow. Well, it may be slow to some or very slow to others. For me, it is not bad at all. Given that all of my film cameras had no AF, I certainly have no problem with the speed of the Leica X1 autofocus. At the best of time, I could manual focus my RF cameras faster than auto focus on my X1 but such time has long gone (but it may be back one day...one fine day). I have missed many shots when the X1's autofocus was not fast enough but, well, I had missed many shots when I was out shooting with any manual focus film camera back in my heyday (when I had to do four things almost simultaneously: setting the shutter speed and the f-stop, focusing and composing a shot).

Handling of the X1 is superb. Setting the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO is very easy. I don't care about scenery modes (apparently mandatory functions in a compact or DSLR camera), so it does not matter to me one bit whether such fancy (or marketing gimmick) functions exist in any Leica camera. In fact, I don't fancy such things in the Leica Land and I am glad that there is no such thing in the X1 or any Leica M cameras. The art of photography should be preserved as our mind and brain should be developed to actually think before even put the camera on an eye level. The digital world has taken so much away from our brain development. Kids growing up in this digital world appear to operate in a different mental model (it is a topic of which I'd rather not deal with in this review).

In terms of image quality, I am very happy with what the X1 has produced so far. Most of the images produced from the X1 blow the best images produced by my GF1 out of the water. As I am not a pro and may not be one, it is very unlikely that I would get myself a Leica M9 and a Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH, which will put me back about $10,000 ($6995 for the M9 and $2995 for the 35mm Summicron).

At the end of the day, shooting images with the X1 suddenly brings back good memories again!
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on November 6, 2014
There are many new cameras on the market over the past few years but the X1 still takes better quality pictures. I heard the later X models have improved auto-focusing, but this being the first one in the series, perhaps will become a classic some day. Other limitations include a narrow usable ISO range and occasional color distortion with magenta bias.
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on December 28, 2011
I was very excited about this camera especially based on previous experiences with Leica products. This camera let me down, unfortunately. The X1 screams quality but, in the case of my unit, it was just a facade. Every single picture taken with the camera came out with an artifact which always showed in the same location. This was a huge disappointment. Thankfully, I think I'll be able to fix the pictures on photoshop but this is inexcusable in such a premium product. I have already contacted Amazon and will return the item for a refund.
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on July 17, 2010
Three Stars for Value, Five Stars for Everything Else.

I'll just get to the meat and potatoes of this review.

Looks just like the steel gray mini M9. Makes me wish I had the M9 versus the M8 (yes, just for looks!). Very nice and sleek, definitely not boxy and boring as the online reviews made it appear. The camera is sturdy for a point and shoot, and fits well in my hands. I tested the dials. They are not flimsy on my camera as has been mentioned in previous internet reviews. I have small fingers, however, so I may not trigger a dial to move as other shooters. The screen is BAD. I'm sorry, but for $2K, I need a $2K screen. At least 920K dots. I'm disappointed at the screen...the subjects appeared grainy and the screen kept locking up as I tried to maintain focus. This is subpar. The other buttons and the flash are easy to use, nice and fits well on the camera.

Features are not overwhelming. As a mini M, I'm not surprised at the simplistic usability. I like it...but for a point and shoot, I have a nagging feeling I could be missing something. I don't know: perhaps the "kids and pets" feature would just make me feel at home. That's a joke. However, I would l like zoom features...5x if possible. The menus and buttons are easy to use, although I would like a toggle button (versus button/menu) for AF/Macro similar to the D-Lux 4.

Image quality is indeed SLR-like. Reviews and comments online usually have images attached that have been photoshopped to a degree. My out of camera jpeg photos are wonderful! I guess I had to see this to believe it. I have a D-Lux 4, and the difference is very evident (not to discredit the D-Lux 4). Now, is the image quality $2K worth? All of Leica's cameras are incredibly overpriced, but I know of no other point-and-shoot that gives the image quality of this camera. I had a hard time believing it before it got into my hands. Still, my answer is leading to, "no, still too expensive".

AF: The minimum focusing distance is far, almost two feet for accurate focusing. Ensure AF Macro is enabled for those "close-up" situations. In this manner, zoom would really be seen as a positive in order to get those close personal shots. It would be difficult to hand this camera to someone (a point/shooter) and say, "please take my photo...no wait, move farther" For my M8.2, I understand when folks have a hard time using it, but for the X1?

ISO quality is superb. Blown up on my screen, it's very comparable to my 7D, with a Leica flare to it.

What I've stated are the few things that I value; there are plenty more pros to this camera. In the end, like most Leicas, the X1 is definitely not a camera for the budget, quick shooter. To the ones who just want a point and shoot to capture moments, the price of the X1 is difficult to justify. One can even get an Micro Four-Thirds camera with excellent image quality for 25% the price of the X1. This camera is out of stock as we speak, but perhaps a lower price would make it maniacal to the masses. Also, a closer minimum focal distance, and a better screen. But I cannot let myself unhand this fine piece of hardware. I find myself foregoing essential pieces of clothing, toothpaste and soap, and a few meals a day in order to have the chance to master the equipment so painstakingly made from the company called Leica. By the way, I didn't really give up soap, that was a joke.
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on December 3, 2011
The Leica X1 has simply better IQ. All reviews out there say that. Steve Huff prefers the colors, the sharpness, the focus of the X1. The Fuji X100 has so much distortion it bends faces and makes them longer. The X1 lens is compared by M9 Leica users as the same IQ as a M9 with a Leica lens, a great compliment.

In good light it focuses as fast as the X100. In poor light it is slower. But it nails the focus every time. The X100 Fuji is out of focus half the times. The Fuji has blotchy skin, the Leica creamy smooth skin tones.

Yes the X100 has EVF, but for fixed 35mm really you know the shot reach. And you can get any glass 35mm or 36mm viewfinder for the ot shoe, Panasonic has one for $ 130

The Fuji X100 also has sticky blade syndrome, a fatal disabling freeze that requires often 2 or three trips to the factory, whereas the Leica is free from maintenance problems.

The Leica is 11 ounces compared to the Fuji 16. It is also 30% smaller, the size of many P&Ss it fits in any jacket pocket.

If you want a camera that goes with you in your jacket pocket, with the IQ of a $ 12,000 Leica, built in flash, that gives you perfect distortion free images, with Leica 3D "pop", this is it. Leica may never make any camera this light, as they are pressured to put in an EVF. In many ways this is the most romantic camera ever made, small, portable, handsome, very lightweight, incredibly sharp, perfect colors, simple but perfect menus, you found it.

It will also save you money not buying 10 lenses for it and make you lose a pound moving to find your shot.
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on January 12, 2012
The camera has a great photo quality especially during the low light. They have a big APS-C sensor so the Noise is low in high ISO. The len has f2.8 and great quality pictures. The only drawback is low MP compared to other camera and the price is expensive.
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on April 7, 2011
Good mid-size camera. However, the aperture and speed dials are unstable. They are easily moved to different position than the one set if inadvertently touuched. Also the single focus square is clumsy to set.
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